Still on his Feet: Shades of Purple
By ROBERT HUSSEMAN
Of the News-Register
KEIZER – Linfield baseball coach Scott Brosius made the trip to Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer and sat through the rain and uncertainty to watch Class 6A McMinnville baseball play Class 5A Willamette at the Volcanoes Spring Break Tournament on Wednesday night.
Scouting trip? Yes, and no. Brosius’ son, David, was the Grizzlies’ starting pitcher, so he could assume the role of a parent. But a great coach is a vigilant coach, and it’s easy for Brosius to keep an eye on all the Grizzlies. Including their first-year coach.
Jordan Harlow jumped out of the frying pan of Linfield baseball – a successful program under Scott Carnahan that has reached great heights under Brosius – and into the fire of a high school baseball program. The Grizzlies came into the 2013 season as something of a blank slate, with a mix of experience and youth, offense and defense, known quantities and live arms. It’s up to him to figure it out.
Harlow, Linfield’s team captain in 2013, started 48 of 49 games, hitting .260 with an on-base percentage of .333. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in the national championship-clinching game against Southern Maine. He was a successful executor of Brosius baseball as a player, and it’s not surprising that he would attempt to replicate some of that success as a coach.
“I think there’s definitely some things similar mentality-wise,” Harlow said after the Grizzlies’ 6-4, 6-inning victory over the Wolverines Wednesday night. “At the same time, we’re McMinnville and there’s certain things we’re trying to do.”
Through three games, the Grizzlies look like kindred spirits with the Wildcats. Harlow emphasizes small-ball execution, and McMinnville is constantly working to move base-runners around. The approach at the plate – swinging through the ball – is apparent with the high-school team and the NCAA Division III team.
However, as Harlow alluded, the mentality of the two squads is strikingly similar. Or, more accurately, the confidence. The Grizzlies have proven difficult to shake during their 3-0 start, coming from behind in two games and beating back Willamette in the sixth inning Wednesday night. The belief in the McMinnville system and the confidence in ability is palpable.
How good will the Grizzlies do this season? Still much too early to tell. A few key players – including senior pitcher/infielder Gage Gubrud – have not yet healed from injuries suffered in other seasons. Mac does not yet have a true ace on the mound, and some of the pitchers still need seasoning.
Perhaps the simplest and least tangible comment to be made thus far is faint praise. Perhaps it’s high praise. Either way, right now, the Grizzlies’ heads appear to be in the right place.
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